Home News Airbnb Has a Hidden Camera Problem…Here is How to Spot One in Your Rental

Airbnb Has a Hidden Camera Problem…Here is How to Spot One in Your Rental

by Laura Steinberg

Airbnb isn’t the only one with a hidden camera problem. The next time you rent a place to stay, you’ll want to make sure you pack some essentials. Like a really bright flashlight. Today’s seasoned traveler is prepared to take anti-surveillance measures everywhere they go.

Exterminating camera bugs

Cybersecurity expert Marcus Hutchins warns today’s travelers to be prepared for bugs. Not the kind you call the exterminator for but the electronic surveillance camera kind.

You don’t want to end up providing free content for some internet trickster to separate perverts from their money with. It doesn’t even matter who you are or what you do. People will pay to watch anything.

Unless you know where and how to look, you’ll never notice the camera lurking in ordinary objects. Anything with a pinhole could be looking at you.

Fire alarms and clocks are obvious places to hide the gizmos but there are many others not so obvious, like the USB charger plugged into the wall.

You don’t need to call in an expensive bug sweeper to clean your vacation rental. The quick and easy do it yourself solution involves a bright light you can shine around at all the furniture and appliances in the room. As the bright light plays across the object in question, you watch for a blue reflection from the lens.

The front-facing camera on your cell phone works as a bug detector too, but it’s not foolproof. The rear facing one doesn’t work the same way and the front one doesn’t detect all bugs. It can work as a first sweep device though, and be followed up with the flashlight which is much more dependable.

The obvious places

Anywhere above or around the bed and bath is suspicious for hidden camera installations. That’s why smoke alarms and clocks are obvious choices.

One way mirrors are often used to disguise the evil surveillance equipment but the flashlight trick works even on “mirrored” surfaces. The blue flash comes back through.

To use your phone as a detector, “switch off the lights and use the front-facing camera on a smartphone to identify infrared LEDs.”


Those work only on night-vision equipped cameras. That type isn’t used in the bathroom because folks don’t leave the lights off there.

Randy Andrews, a video security camera expert, says the smallest one he ever saw “was embedded inside the cross of a Phillips-screw head. To the naked eye, it just blends in and is not visible at all.”

They’re everywhere these days. The latest spycams are “not only recording on board the device, where you have to go and retrieve an SD card to get the video. They’re also connecting to wireless. And they all have simple, do-it-yourself set-ups. Anyone can do it.”

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